Well, what can I say, people, you missed the Christmas party of the century here in swinging downtown Yulha…
..and now it’s my solemn duty to inform you that most of you are going to miss my New York wedding.
Oops! Not my wedding, my friends’ wedding! Sorry, slip of the hooves!
Yes, I’m off on today for New York, my fifth visit to the States, via a night in Shanghai. Yes, the same New York some LETHAL BLIZZARDS are working their way towards to greet me. Apart from walking through the state on the Appalachian Trail, I’ve had two brief encounters with the Big Apple: a couple of days with a woman I was briefly embrangled with after busting my legs on the A.T. in 2004 (we did a punk rock pilgrimage and spent a night in the famed Chelsea Hotel), and a half-day thru-hike of Central Park in 2006 before I jumped on a train to head back to the Trail for Part 2…
But this one is going to be the best yet. All going well, I arrive at JFK on Sunday afternoon, and will then be whisked upstate to the home of The Dude & Trouble. Their wedding is the following day, New Year’s Eve, at a girls’ camp in the Adirondack Mountains.
Snow, mountains, cold, possible blizzards — as the immortal Bill Idol once snarled, “Nice day for a white wedding.” But it’s nothing for these snow bunnies. Here they are the day after I met them, near the top of Mt Baden Powell (2,867m). This is how I imagine their wedding, only with 100mph winds and hunks of pine tree flying through the air:
The wedding will also be a big hiker catch-up with some good friends from the Pacific Crest Trail, flying in from all over America. There are disturbing rumours of a POLAR BEAR SWIM in a frozen lake the next morning, plus perhaps a MOUNTAIN HIKE. As Trouble said to me recently, “Some people might think it weird that we are going to share our honeymoon with a bunch of friends, but these are the same people that think it’s weird that we like to camp on the snow.”
F______ weirdos. But let me tell you how we met.
2010. The Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada. It was a hard hike for me. I struggled with lethargy and wavering purpose in the second thousand miles, the high mountains, the snow, the cold. Swore I’d quit half a dozen times; someone would talk me round. What the hell. I had a girlfriend at the time waiting in Switzerland, and wasn’t too upset about quitting. Loser lands in Switzerland, great girlfriend: could be worse. I was distracted.
I met Trouble, from Upstate N.Y., as I waited for a ride into Wrightwood, CA. Soon I met more of her gang: Dude, her partner, and Granite & Terrapin, another couple; plus Fidgit and Rif-Raf and a French expat called Frog. They were supposed to be leaving town but they ended up going back in (crap weather); we crashed at trail angels’ homes, ate pizza, got drunk. That was the first time I’d ever re-supplied for the next leg while totally hammered. I hope it’s not the last.
Next day I found myself leaving town with my new friends, climbing Mt Baden Powell straight up the side since the path was buried anyway…and that’s how it all began. Granite had a GPS, immensely useful in that season of unmarked paths. I had little to offer but my sparkling repartee.
Here’s our fuzzy summit shot:
Anyway, I hung with that gang a few days. We were still in the desert, which I loved. I was far more at home in the heat than the others. Here we are road-walking:
And yet more road-walking:
And a breakfast feast in Agua Dulce, CA:
Much whooping when we reached the 500-mile mark:
My chronology’s a bit skewed, but the group fragmented soon after. I arrived pretty much solo at Kennedy Meadows, doorstep of the High Sierra…started out with most of them three days later…we got separated…I got stuck with this other guy…met Fidgit again at Lone Pine…ditched the guy…started out with Fidge and her friend Ann…Ann had second thoughts (badass mountains, lots of snow)…Fidge had to hike out with her…I joined a bloke from Washington State and his Japanese friend…we did the Sierra’s nasty high passes together with no rapport whatsoever…I hated, hated, HATED the Sierra…
Umpteen near-quits later I was persuaded to stay on the Trail by Granite & Terrapin. We left Old Station, CA, hiked through Oregon to the Washington border together…shared some adventures and some hypothermia…and I split the PCT and the country there and bailed for Switzerland.
G & T were great company and thoughtful compadres. A couple of their notes:
So anyway, the adventure continues. A few days upstate and then I’ll be heading to NYC for a week or so of walking, eating, shopping, music and literature pilgrimage, history, coffee, photography, and catch-ups with at least a couple of mates from the A.T. and P.C.T. As the song says, (change pouring rain to driving snow)…
I’m going where the sun keeps shining, thru’ the pouring rain, going where the weather suits my clothes…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote